Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Artlantis: Jason deCaires Taylor's Underwater Sculptures Protect Coral Reefs and Usher in a New Era of Tourism

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Artlantis: Jason deCaires Taylor's Underwater Sculptures Protect Coral Reefs and Usher in a New Era of Tourism

Article excerpt

WHILE TRAVELLING and working abroad as a diving instructor, British-Guyanese artist Jason deCaires Taylor recognized an opportunity to re-engage people with the vast, mysterious and often-forgotten aquatic underworld. He poured his deep longing to create functional art and his passion for marine conservation into founding the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park in the West Indies in 2006. The gallery assembles a series of sculptural interpretations of local culture through life-sized figures and faces embedded in coral and rock, and has been lauded by the likes of Vogue, National Geographic and Discovery Channel.

Inspired by this achievement, the Mexican Government contacted Taylor and commissioned a more ambitious project in Cancun. Opened in 2009, the Museo Subacuatico de Arte converted barren seabed into a submerged attraction featuring 450 sculptures, all designed using a pH-neutral material to promote coral growth and provide habitat for thousands of fish, lobsters and other species. The sculptures also aim to usher in a new era of tourism, one of cultural and environmental awareness, and have diverted some portion of Cancun's tourist droves away from natural reefs, which are often damaged by anchors and inexperienced divers.

"Before, I used to make art installations at exhibitions and afterwards, I would have to store all the sculptures," says Taylor. "It was really demotivating, just creating more mass for the planet--it already has so much. …

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